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Box Spring Canyon

Central Washington


Central Washington -- Yakima
View map below


9.5 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 900 ft.
Highest Point: 2300 ft.


4.00 out of 5


Parking Pass/Entry Fee


This is part of the William O. Douglas Trail, which runs from Davis High School in Yakima to Mt. Rainier. This trail is still being established. Most of it runs on state land inside the wild game fence. 

From the Snow Mountain Ranch parking lot walk west to Sunset Road, then up Sunset Road along the wild game fence to a gate. The gate is located where the paved road curves east, with an apple orchard to the north. There is a small gate you can push open and walk through.

You will be on an old jeep road that travels up a gradual incline. Take a left at the top of the incline, and about half a mile of flat trail follows. Follow the old roadbed west to another fence about 1.35 miles from the wild game fence. There is no gate on this fence; continue through it.

Continue uphill, bordering the wild game fence but not through it, paralleling an outdoor shooting range to the corner of the fence. Continue following the trail and the fence north to pick up the jeep road again at another gate. This gate is closed and locked, so it has not been driven through in a while. Use the gate as your guide and turn left (east) here, going uphill. The trail will become more established and easier to see as you continue on.

As you climb, balsamroot and lupine become profuse and the views become more expansive. Look for Mount Cleman to the north, Cowiche Mountain to the southeast, the agricultural lands around Cowiche and Tieton and Yakima Valley in the distance to the north and southeast, and the eastern edge of the Cascades to the west.

When the road levels, watch for another jeep road heading southeast (sharply left). There is a sign or guide post thanks to the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy with the words "Box Springs" on it. Turn left (south) here. The trail can be faint, but will become more obvious as you go. Follow this road along the hillside to Box Spring, situated in a grove of Garry Oaks, overlooking the cliffs at the head of Box Spring Canyon.


Box Spring Canyon

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.6596, -120.7569 Open map in new window


Central Washington -- Yakima

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oak Creek Wildlife Area

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Getting There

From I-82, take the Highway 12 West exit and follow Highway 12 west 2.0 miles to the North 40th Avenue exit. From the exit, continue straight through the stoplight, continuing south and uphill on North 40th Avenue about 1.6 miles to Summitview Road. Turn right and head west and northwest 8.8 miles to Cowiche Mill Road. Angle off to the left onto Cowiche Mill Road. Continue west 2.6 miles to the Snow Mountain Ranch (Cowiche Canyon Conservancy) gravel parking lot on the left, just west of and across the street from Cowiche Creek Nursery. If Cowiche Mill Road becomes a dirt road, you've gone just a little too far. Park here; take your valuables with you. Parking here is free; no pass or fee is required.

It's a 0.6 mile walk from here to the Box Spring Canyon trailhead.

If you prefer to walk along the road, head west (left) 0.3 miles along Cowiche Mill Road to Sunset Way, and take the road north (uphill) here. After another 0.3 miles, Sunset Way curves right (east). At this curve, find an apple orchard in front of you to the north and a small gate in the elk fence to your left (west). Go through this gate; this is the starting point for the Box Spring Canyon trail.

If you prefer to avoid walking on the road, go through the trail gate at the southeast corner of the Snow Mountain Ranch parking lot and immediately turn right onto the north leg of the Garry Oak Trail. Follow this trail west to where it turns left (south); turn right (north) instead, and follow a short, old, partially-obscured driveway up toward Cowiche Mill Road. Just before you reach the road turn left and follow the wooden fence paralleling Cowiche Mill Road until it reaches Sunset Way and the elk fence. There's a gap in the wooden fence there; go through it, cross Cowiche Mill Road (now a dirt road) and the elk grate there, and head uphill (north) along the west side of the elk fence (there is little or no trail here). The elk fence parallels Sunset Way. In 0.3 miles, Sunset curves away to the east, and you'll reach a kiosk and gate in the elk fence marking the start of the Box Spring Canyon trail.

There's an alternative parking area 0.4 miles west of the Snow Mountain Ranch parking lot. Instead of stopping at the SMR lot, continue straight on Cowiche Mill Road past Sunset Way, where the road crosses an elk grate and an elk fence and becomes a dirt road. Park in the large, state-owned parking lot on the left. A Discover Pass is required for parking here. Walk back to the elk fence, cross Cowiche Mill Road, and head uphill along the elk fence. The elk fence parallels Sunset Way. In 0.3 miles, Sunset curves away to the east, and you'll reach a kiosk and gate in the elk fence marking the start of the Box Spring Canyon trail.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee


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Box Spring Canyon

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